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Estimates Reply - Premier

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Tags: Climate Change, State Budget, Electric Vehicles, Energy Efficiency

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Deputy Chair, I rise to speak about the contributions made by the Premier and the conversations that were had during the climate change ministry part of the Estimates process. I want to say from the outset when the Government released a couple of weeks ago the Independent Review of the Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008 by Jacobs Company, there was a tremendous sense of hope in the Tasmanian scientific community and amongst people who have been actively working towards taking urgent and direct action on the increasing heating of the planet and the contributions we are making in Tasmania.

We were collectively hopeful the Government would finally do more than talk and would act to attend to immediately the things that mattered the most for Tasmania. Those things are embodied in the Greens' Safe Climate Bill which is tabled in the House but, in summary, they are about real action on reducing the emissions we make into the atmosphere that are heating the planet dangerously and strong protection of the carbon stores we have and detailed and comprehensive plans for adaptation and working across government bodies - local, state and federal government.

It was shocking and I said as much to the Premier when he presented the reports to Estimates which make it really clear the State Climate Change (State Action) Act being prepared at the moment will not contain sectional targets for Tasmania and it will not end native forest logging to protect our carbon stores. It is deeply disturbing the Premier can spin this as making the contribution that Tasmania and all jurisdictions need to make to do everything we can to curb the increase in greenhouse gases to remain below 1.5 degrees, which is what our country has signed up to in the 2015 Paris target.

It is deeply disturbing not only we are not doing that, but the Premier seems intent on continuing to spin the idea that Tasmania is and will remain the global leader in this area. I want to mention some details that were laid out very clearly in the independent review of the Climate Change (State Action) Act. They make it very clear the Paris Agreement requires all countries and subnational jurisdictions to do everything they can to mitigate emissions and are to legislate to do so. It makes it very clear on page 18 of the report that, like every other state in Australia, Tasmania is matching, unfortunately for us and our children, each other state and territory by not setting sectional targets. We are not leading the rest of Australia in this regard and worse than that, we have no plan to do so.

We are not planning on being a leader in Australia in this area, let alone in the world. We are not listening to the G20 Financial Stability Board and the framework they set in 2015, the taskforce on climate related financial disclosures that makes it clear businesses have to take appropriate assessments and pricing of climate related risks and develop voluntary climate related disclosures.

They make it clear in order to do so, there needs to be incentives for this and it is abundantly clear incentives in the form of targets is what is needed to help businesses adjust to what will be required of them by the global community in order we can not only maintain the market advantage of Tasmanian businesses into the future, but do what we must do, as every country must, to kerb our emissions to being not only net zero but true zero.

This is what the Premier does not understand. We are not working towards net zero. We must work towards true zero. That is the only way the global community can respond in a true and effective way to the crisis of global heating. We have to not only reduce emissions to a level we might be comfortable at the moment from a market point of view or from a personal lifestyle point of view, we have to be sucking out carbon from the atmosphere and we have to be doing that in the next few years. We have to be moving towards not emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we must be net negative.

It was incredibly important to see the act the Premier outlined and is proposed in the documents he tabled, does not explicitly state that there will be sectional targets required. The Jacobs' report was clear the penetration of some of the programs and initiatives their review investigated were low and potentially may not yield significant emissions cuts.

These are the initiatives the Government has taken to date with regard to the small amount of initiatives in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the tiny initiative energy efficiency upgrades that would result in a reduction in emissions at the household level. These are pathetically small with regard to being relative to the need and the targets we should be setting.

Jacobs also makes the point they have had a negligible effect on reducing Tasmania's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions and the state is very well positioned to decarbonise sectors, other than energy generation if we have targets to drive them.

On behalf of Tasmanians who were expecting this Government would do something meaningful on climate change, it is very depressing and distressing to see the Premier cannot come to grips with the importance with us doing everything we can to reduce the amount of emissions, which have gone up since 1990 in the transport sector, the industrial processors, the product use and direct combustion sectors.

These are all areas that have gone up dramatically and the areas which have gone down, agriculture and waste, there is no reason to think they will remain low unless we set hard targets to require them to do that.

It is incredibly important we understand the agriculture targets for the Agrivision 2050 plan would specifically act to increase the emissions from the agricultural sector, unless targets and incentives are provided to prevent that from happening. It is incredibly important we have a climate plan and end native forest logging and do everything we can to make sure we transition that industry immediately.

I want to finish by saying the Premier was clear that we have a carbon sink because of the forests, and was clear it was because of the Forestry Agreement reached we have been able to have, as he said, a very good emissions profile and leverage off the fact of the ending of that native forest logging and the regrowth in those areas, but it is not enough. It is clearly something we will be taking up when the bill comes before the House.